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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Your View of God (Ezekiel 1:1)

Ezekiel, whose name means "God strengthens," trained in Jerusalem for the priesthood, but was sent into captivity before he could begin serving. God used him to prophesy, instead, to those in exile. Ezekiel faithfully served as God's watchmen for more than twenty years. Over the course of those years, the LORD had him do some strange things.

Before Ezekiel's calling, God appeared to him in a vision just like He did with Jeremiah and Isaiah, and Ezekiel saw the glory of God, "In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God" (Ezekiel 1:1).

Like Isaiah and Jeremiah, Ezekiel fell on his face in fear. No words adequately describe what he saw. Following this experience, the LORD commissioned Ezekiel for his task and required Ezekiel to "open your mouth and eat what I give you." He then assured Ezekiel that his audience would resist his message. What an assignment!

God gave Ezekiel three experiences which sustained him through out the following years of difficult ministry:
  • A vision of God's glory
  • The "eating" of the Word of God
  • The enabling of the Spirit of God
Ezekiel's preparation for his task differed little from ours. We are sent into the world as watchmen, men and women who proclaim the coming judgment of God on unrepentant sinners. What sustained Ezekiel will sustain us today. We need a vision of God's glory. Jesus is the glory of God. We must consider His life, death, and resurrection until we are overwhelmed by the awesome price God paid to forgive sinners. We must take in the Word of God until it seeps from the pores of our lives, and we must learn to appropriate the Spirit's presence in our lives until He becomes our greatest reality. The task is too big to be done in the flesh. Only a right view of God will sustain us in the dark days ahead.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading: Ezekiel 1:1-4:17 

  • How long has Ezekiel been exiled in Babylon when God appears to him in a vision?
  • What had God promised the exiles, as the "good basket of figs" in Jeremiah 24:5-7?
  • What role do the living creatures play or, rather, what are they responsible for?
  • How many times does the Spirit tell Ezekiel not to be afraid? What does this tell you about those who experience the manifest presence of God?
  • What does the Spirit give to Ezekiel, and what does He tell him to do with it? What does this tell you about Ezekiel and the cost involved in being God's prophet?
Ezekiel 3:16-4:17

  • What does God call Ezekiel?
  • What are the consequences of not heeding Ezekiel's warning? Of heeding his warning?
  • What does this tell you about God? God's watchmen? People in general?
  • Where does God command Ezekiel to go, and what happens to Ezekiel when the glory of the Lord shows up there?
  • What visual does Ezekiel use to teach the people, and what is his message?
  • Think about the strangeness of Ezekiel's behavior. What does this instruction to Ezekiel tell you about God? And about Ezekiel?
  • How long is Ezekiel to lie on his side, and what does the passage of each day represent?
  • What instruction does God give Ezekiel that causes him problems? Why?
Turning truth to prayer: Pray that God will raise up watchmen on the wall to warn us in our generation. Pray that we will have responsive hearts to God and His messengers. Pray that we will see how serious God is about sin.